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Will Russia and India Be The First to Send Humans to Mars?

A Russian official recently raised the prospect of a joint mission.

Mars seen from the Hubble Space Telescope. (Photo: NASA/Wikimedia)

The race to the Moon was one of the defining competitions of the Cold War, as the Soviet Union and the U.S. grappled for supremacy in outer space. Could a race to send humans to Mars be next?

A Russian official raised that prospect recently by suggesting that Russia and India could work together on sending cosmonauts to the Red Planet, according to The Times of India.

Formed in 1969, India’s space program is young by world standards, and has never launched a manned flight.

But Sergey Kotov, a Russian consul, told students in the southeastern Indian city of Chennai that Russia could work with the Indian government on future space missions.

“Though history of space is not bigger than history of mankind, it is still a great step forward,” Kotov told the students, according to The Times of India. “And the Soviet Union and Russia has taken this step forward. In the future, we will have such steps together with India.”

Like the U.S., however, a mission to Mars for either Russia or India is likely decades away.

NASA outlined a plan in October for a manned mission to Mars, though NASA’s administrator has acknowledged that any mission likely won’t happen until the 2030s at the earliest.